Hendy Cowan

Hendy Cowan


    Coalition underlines importance of science and technology

    18/01/2001 10:06 AM

    Western Australia’s future as a more diversified and knowledge-based economy will be encouraged through a range of initiatives announced today by the Coalition Government in its Science and Technology policy.

    Deputy Premier and Commerce and Trade Minister Hendy Cowan, who released the policy at the University of Western Australia, said science and technology would have an increasingly significant role to play in the State’s prosperity and development.

    Mr Cowan said that during the next term of government, the Coalition was committed to providing leadership in the development of a world-class science and technology sector.

    “Not only will the Government be assisting industry to apply research and stay ahead of the field, we will also be striving to attract more students to science and technology and ensuring that there are employment opportunities in that field,” he said.

    “It is a process that is already well under way.”

    Mr Cowan said that if elected, the Government would:
    • promote effective research and development in areas critical to the State’s economy and in emerging areas;
    • provide appropriate infrastructure to support scientific work being undertaken in the State;
    • promote education and training in science and technology; and -
    • support scientists in applying their expertise to business opportunities.

    Specific initiatives announced today will see the successful Centres of Excellence program boosted with an extra $1 million per year.

    “While this program will continue to support existing industries such as mining and agriculture, there will be greater emphasis on emerging industries, thereby enhancing WA’s position as an innovative, knowledge economy,” Mr Cowan said.

    Support for Co-operative Research Centres (CRCs) would continue.

    “Today the Federal Government will be announcing joint funding of two new CRCs in Western Australia,” Mr Cowan said.

    “These will focus on research into dryland salinity and prospecting for deeply buried ore deposits.”

    The Coalition will seek Federal funding to introduce two new programs to boost the ability of small to medium-sized businesses to capitalise on research and development.

    The Innovation Start-Ups program will provide access to private sector expertise and advice about venture capital and business establishment requirements.

    The Researcher Industry Placement program will supply experienced researchers to work within a cluster of technology-based firms.

    Other initiatives for the next term include:
    • development of a State Biotechnology Strategy;
    • $8 million for a strategic research fund for the marine environment;
    • commencing the planning and design work for a marine education, training and industry research centre at Geraldton;
    • $50,000 for each of WA’s nine regions to attract regional research and development project;
    • $100,000 for a Regional Biodiesel Pilot Project to investigate the feasibility of biodiesel as an environmentally friendly alternative fuel; and -
    • investigating the establishment of a State Forensic Laboratory Centre at Midland.

    Mr Cowan said that during its term of government, the Coalition had championed the growth of science and technology industries and research expertise.

    It had developed the State’s first Science and Technology Policy.

    “We have developed a framework for the future and look forward to being able to continue its implementation,” the Minister said.

    Media contact:
    Peter Jackson 9222-9595